The state should require alternate route programs to exceed the admission requirements of traditional preparation programs while also being flexible to the needs of nontraditional candidates.
The admission requirements for South Dakota's alternate routes do not exceed those of traditional preparation programs.
South Dakota classifies the Alternative Route to Certification Program and Teach For America (TFA) as its alternate routes to certification.
The state requires all applicants to have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates must demonstrate subject-matter knowledge by passing a content exam. A passing score on the subject-knowledge test exempts applicants from the GPA requirement.
South Dakota also requires applicants to hold a major in the subject area to be taught, although five years of relevant work experience may be used in lieu of this requirement. Applicants cannot test out of the coursework requirements.
Candidates to the Alternative Route to Certification must also have two years of experience after graduating.
South Dakota Administrative Rules 24:15:04:01, 24:15:05:02
Screen candidates for academic ability.
South Dakota should require that candidates to its alternate routes provide some evidence of good academic performance. The standard should be higher than what is required of traditional teacher candidates, such as a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Alternatively, the state could require one of the standardized tests of academic proficiency commonly used in higher education for graduate admissions, such as the GRE. Passing a subject-matter test, although important in its own right, does not accomplish this purpose.
Offer flexibility in fulfilling coursework requirements.
While South Dakota is recognized for allowing candidates to use work experience in place of a major, the state should allow any candidate who already has the requisite knowledge and skills to demonstrate such by passing a rigorous test. Rigid coursework requirements could dissuade talented individuals who lack precisely the right courses from pursuing a career in teaching.
Consider flexibility in work-experience requirement.
The state should consider using a candidate's years of experience as a factor in the admission process rather than as a requirement. Requiring a minimum number of years' work experience may disqualify potentially talented candidates unnecessarily. Recent graduates, who may demonstrate high academic ability and strong content knowledge but lack the minimum years of experience, would be needlessly excluded from the alternate route programs under this requirement.
South Dakota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.